In the last few months, I have been in many conversations about career management. It is during these many different conversations that I reflected on every successful person I know and how they have managed their careers. Based on that reflection, these are the 6 key things everyone should do to manage their careers.
#1. Pursue a Dream and Passion. I always say that if you are alive and kicking, your heart has to beat for something. You have to clearly define what that the “thing” is? It typically happens in the form of a job, role, position, company, skillset or a purpose. No one thing is bad but having a perspective channels your efforts. Most importantly, this shouldn’t be stagnant. You should continually shape the dream and passion based on your learning and accomplishment.
#2. Own your destiny. Once you know a dream and passion, the next thing is to own the destiny. There are many ways to go at it and you have to pick your play. Typically, you can simply go with the flow or have a clearly laid out 1–3–5 year plan where you can be more deliberate about it. While you undertake the journey, it is also important to manage your choices. The choices help you lay a framework to connect the dots for the future.
#3. Work Hard and Work Smart. There is no replacement to working hard and working smart. Irrespective of where you are in the journey or whatever dream you are pursuing, you SHOULD continue to work hard and smart. The net outcome should be both growth in expertise and leadership. If even one of this doesn’t happen, you need to revisit what and how you are approaching your career. In addition, take a few minutes to review your current habits and the learning curve. Most career stagnations occur at the intersection of lack of discipline in habits, unclear dream and passion, and not working hard/smart.
#4. Manage YOUR brand. The result of mastering #1/#2/#3 is to manage your brand. A deliberate outcome of trying to owning your destiny is to manage your brand. No pressure, but your individual brand is built one interaction at a time. Your interaction style with your colleagues, peers, leaders, customers, partners, direct reports, and others defines your leadership brand. Your work and ability to accomplish within the context of your leadership brand defines your expertise brand. Your ability to take initiative and lead a change defines your Entrepreneurial brand. These three together define YOUR brand. Get it right.
#5. What about your digital brand? There is another facet to your brand that is most ignored by most professional, which is your digital brand. Review your digital trails, connections, network maps, posts, and others to identify “where are you situated?”. Your digital brand should actually be a leading indicator of your future. It should help you get your next job/role. While you have to definitely establish your current credentials, your interactions should deliberately leap frog of where your next is. Start writing, interacting, networking, and building your brand. You should ideally dream to become an influencer in your chosen field! If you haven’t already done, please review a time-series of how your digital brand evolves over time.
#6. Knowing what’s next? Ask yourself the question — what are the 3 key trends that are shaping your field of work and what is your point of view on it? If you don’t have a point of view then clearly there is a problem brewing. You should fix it before it is too late. Having a point of view is just the start, knowing exactly where you are in your expertise journey, the ability to get exposure to get to those trends should all weigh heavily in your plan. If it isn’t happening, you should panic now!
Please don’t let any ONE situation define your dignity. Through the journey, you may have situations like a layoff, difficult boss, difficult business circumstance but none of them should define your dignity. You still have your friends, kids, parents, spouses that look up to you.
Don’t forget to #bespecial Have a happy career!